herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

Schools urging teens to put off losing virginity

NEW lesson plans set to be rolled out in secondary schools will urge young people to delay having sex for the first time.

Teenagers will soon be taught about the risks associated with having sex, following new research that shows young people were having sex at an earlier age than in previous generations.

The initiative -- which was launched yesterday by the Crisis Pregnancy Programme (CCP) -- aims to reduce young people's chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases or having unexpected pregnancies.

The organisation said that the programme was developed in response to studies which revealed Irish teenagers are becoming intimate at an earlier age than ever before.

The research found that young people who have sex for the first time before the age of 17, are 70pc more likely to experience a crisis pregnancy in their lifetime.

It also found that these teenagers are three times more likely to contract an STI or experience an abortion.

Those who had sex before 17 were also more likely to wish they had waited longer before having sex.

The initiative is part of b4udecide.ie -- a website which encourages people to make healthier choices in relation to their sexual activity.



surfing

The site received more than 80,000 visitors last year -- with young people spending a considerable amount of time surfing through the available information.

CPP acting director Dr Stephanie O'Keeffe, said they would be coordinating a rollout of the lesson plans to secondary schools and youth organisations over the coming months.

"While we have seen sustained reductions in teenage pregnancy and teenage abortion rates over the last 10 years, evidence shows that young people continue to face immense pressures from the internet, advertising and, of course, their peers," she said.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald -- who spoke at the publication of the CPP's annual report yesterday -- expressed concern at the exposure of young people to "sexual messaging".

"Teenagers and indeed younger children are exposed to more sexual messaging than at any time in the past.

"In this context, young people need good, clear information from their parents, schools and youth work settings on how to establish and conduct happy, safe, loving relationships and how to avoid crisis pregnancy and STIs."

hnews@herald.ie

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